The US has given a critical warning to Iran as thousands of its citizens take to the streets to demand regime change.
Protests have swept across Iran in recent days, with many demanding that the government of Hassan Rouhani steps down. The White House warned that the government needs to listen to those protestors, and suggested that it would respond to any attempts to shut down the protests.
Donald Trump, who has been critical of the Iranian regime as well as the nuclear deal signed with it last year, repeated the White House’s warning that “the world is watching”.
Earlier, the White House had said that the Iranian government needed to respect people’s “right to express themselves”.
“Reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” the White House said. “The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.”
An earlier statement took explicit aim at the Iranian government, and appeared to suggest that the protestors were justified. “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state, whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” it read.
Donald Trump repeated some of the wording of both of those statements in a tweet.
Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
The State Department called the protests peaceful and said that protestors should not be arrested. It is not clear how many activists have been arrested so far.
“Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” it said in a statement. “As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.”
Protests in Iran are expected to continue into their third and fourth days over the weekend. Recent reports suggested that they had spread into the country’s capital, Tehran.